“Non-religious as some of these reactions may be, in one sense of the word “religious,” they yet belong to THE GENERAL SPHERE OF THE RELIGIOUS LIFE, and so should generically be classed as religious reactions.
‘He believes in No-God, and he worships him,’ said a colleague of mine of a student who was manifesting a fine atheistic ardor; and the more fervent opponents of Christian doctrine have often enough shown a temper which, psychologically considered, is indistinguishable from religious zeal.”
In a restrictive and oppressive culture flooded with Western media and standards, things start to get really mixed up. Freedoms oppressed and desires dismissed, society becomes polarized into conformists, objective liberals, and frustrated reactionaries of two kinds. On the one hand you have religious zealots who despise everything that has the slightest hint of Western influences, but there’s a lot of writing and chitchat about those guys. I’m interested in the other pole of frustrated reactionaries. Let’s call them the Pseudoenlightened (PE’s).
The reason why I use this term is because this particular group of people truly believe that tradition and culture are primitive and beneath them– a refuge for the ignorant and uncivilized. It seems that PE’s have achieved a level of knowledge that has brought them out of the darkness of tradition and into the light of the world on TV. For the more frustrated and polarized, this has meant that everything that is sanctioned by, or contradictory to tradition and culture is embraced with fervor. At the same time, all that is maintained and enforced is rejected and ridiculed. One only needs to look through status updates in Ramadan to appreciate the amount of anger and aggression directed at religion. I am not saying that this is without reason, I am just fascinated by the forcefulness and intensity of its expression.
How is all this related to the title of this article? The use of the terms ‘judgmental’ and ‘open-minded’ within this circle of people has baffled me for years. Let’s examine those terms more closely, shall we? The word ‘judgmental’ is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as, “having or displaying an overly critical point of view.” The key phrase here is ‘overly critical’ indicating, “expressing [overly] adverse or disapproving comments or judgments,” which goes beyond simply rejecting or disagreeing with a particular point of view. However, in this particular circle the term refers to anyone who disapproves of any attitude, opinion, or behavior that is sanctioned by society and therefore must be wholeheartedly embraced by all those who are not conformists or religious zealots without exception (sounds a little ‘overly adverse and disapproving’, doesn’t it?). This is particularly the case with regards to the use of recreational substances and sexual relationships. Because they are not socially explicit and therefore unregulated, there is no sense of the right time, place, safety measures, and basic rules of engagement. Practically, this has come to be synonymous with an almost complete lack of morality and social responsibility. So in order for one to avoid suffering the label of being judgmental by PE’s, one must forego all their moral assessments and think that all goes; everything is alright.
At the other end of PE classifications are the ‘open-minded’. The OED defines this term as, “willing to consider new ides; unprejudiced.” It refers to a willingness to consider, and approaching matters with no prejudice before assessing them. In a sense, it refers to a pre-decisional phase with regards to a particular matter or alternative point of view. However, PE’s use this term to refer to one who is unconditionally accepting of all attitudes, opinions, and behaviors regardless of their moral or social consequences. This also practically translates into someone with an almost complete lack of morality and social responsibility. So in order to be ‘cool’ in the PE circles, one needs to be ‘non-judgmental’ and ‘open-minded’. I imagine their image of utopia resembles that of a Biblical Babylon. Even anarchists have a moral and regulatory system…
The implications of these considerations for some social milieus in our society are worrying. While focusing so much on the religious zealots and jumping on the bandwagon of Western propaganda and the war on Islam, we have neglected a growing, disgruntled and misguided portion of our youth. In a desire to break free from oppressive restrictions they too have become polarized into binge-drinking, drug-abusing, promiscuous, and ambitionless vehicles of aggression. Not only do they aim their anger outwards at society, but inwards becoming self-destructive and damaging to themselves and their loved ones. They believe that they are free and enlightened by their exposure to, and absorption of elements of non-traditional societies, and yet they behave in a manner not unlike that of the angry mullas. They have taken a set of beliefs and values that is benign in itself, but projected it outwards to throw it in people’s faces as a screaming identity marker, a sign of protest, and a resentful offence. Transgression is their religion, and its extreme embodiment does not discriminate between conformists, liberals, or traditionalists. One can draw many analogies here beyond Islam and the mullas. Democracy, economic growth, and civilization all need fundamental infrastructures in social mentalities if they are to truly take form and lead to progress. Civility before civilization, reason before reaction, propriety before prosperity, and wisdom before Westernization.